LAKE FOREST – The Chicago Bears played their best game of the season Thursday night, a 20-19 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady. But it was nowhere near a complete performance, and in fact the offense in particular left head coach Matt Nagy as frustrated and angry as we’ve seen him since he arrived in Chicago.
The defense was very good but still needs to get better against the run. Special teams had a nice bounce-back game and played a big role in the win but the offense struggled mightily.
What is concerning about the offense is it’s a systemic failure with problems at every position and on the sidelines with the guys running the show, but the Bears are 4-1 so their glass appears more half full.
Quarterback: Only 243 yards of total offense and just 4.1 yards per play is totally unacceptable in an NFL game and it always starts with the quarterback. Nick Foles had a couple of hot streaks and made a couple plays when the Bears needed them most, but his accuracy was off again and Foles hasn’t made a good throw on a deep ball since the winning touchdown to Anthony Miller in Atlanta. Hub’s grade C+ .
Running backs: This is tough because 13-36 rushing, 2.7 yards per carry is basically absurd but it’s not the backs’ fault the holes aren’t there nor that Nagy obviously abandoned the run game.
David Montgomery and Cordarrelle Patterson both made key contributions in the passing game, Patterson a 25-yard swing pass late in the first half to the Bucs 3-yard-line setting up Montgomery for the Bears first touchdown, and Montgomery had seven catches on eight targets including a 17-yard catch to set up the winning field goal with under 2:00 to play. Hub’s grade B .
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: Allen Robinson deserves an A almost every week and while Jimmy Graham has yet to play a complete game, his one-handed grab in the end zone to give the Bears the lead at the half was an A+.
Unfortunately the rest of this group are still learning how to run routes, getting very little separation on medium and deep routes and now the tight ends aren’t contributing much to the run game even in two- and three-tight end sets. Hub’s grade C +.
Offensive line: After four tough weeks it pretty much all came apart vs. the Bucs as the Bears front got little or no movement at the line in the ground game, Foles was under pressure a good part of the night and he was sacked three times for 35 yards in losses.
I should note that Charles Leno, whom I’ve been particularly hard on, was better through the first three quarters. But it started to get away from him in the fourth, and after getting destroyed on his first play in the game in relief of James Daniels, Alex Bars did settle down at left guard. Hub’s grade C - .
Defense Front 7: Khalil Mack was the best player on he field resembling his play from 2018, Akiem Hicks as always made a difference, Brent Urban flashed again, Barkevious Mingo played well, while each got caught in the spotlight making mistakes again Roquan Smith made some big plays and Danny Trevathan took a few decent steps forward and the pass rush was the best it’s been all year in the second half. They do still have to be better vs. the run and the occasional sloppy tackling has to stop. Hub’s grade B .
Secondary: These guys started slow but Kyle Fuller made the play of the game forcing a fumble deep in Bucs territory in the final two minutes of the first half and Eddie Jackson, Tashaun Gipson and Buster Skrine were good all night long.
Hold Brady to 233 net yards passing, 5.3 per pass and 4-14 on third down and you’re going to get very high marks. Hub’s grade B + .
Special Teams: Cordarrelle Patterson had kickoff returns of 32, 40 and 47 yards, Patrick O’Donnell averaged 45.6 per punt with three of his five kicks downed inside the 20 and no touchbacks and Cairo Santos was perfect on four kicks including the game winner. Nice day’s work. Unfortunately Javon Wims had a really dumb blocking in the back penalty on coverage. Hub’s grade B .
Coaching: Matt Nagy deserves high marks for the way his players play for him and getting them to 4-1 with a really poor offense, but game management continues to be a problem and he has to own some of the problems with the offense.
He got away with it but throwing the ball on second down and stopping the clock before Santos’ 38-yard game winner and leaving 1:13 on the clock for Brady instead of 30 seconds is a losing call. Hub’s grade B - .